Martin Gardner's Favorite Poetic Parodies
Prometheus Books, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 245 pages
Some famous poems ache to be parodied. In school they were forced down our throats, and though we can still remember a verse or two, their greatness may have escaped us. Take, for instance, Longfellow's famous "The Village Blacksmith":
Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he With large and sinewy hands . . . .
Most of us have heard it, and may be able to recite a few verses. But many may prefer "The Minnesota Wrestler" by Armand T. Ringer:
Under the spreading repartee The St. Paul wrestler stands. The Body, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands. . . .
Ventura's hair, once black and long, Departed long ago; His brow was wet with honest sweat When he worked as a wrestling pro.
Even original wits can set themselves up for later parody. When Dorothy Parker wrote, "Men seldom make passes/At girls who wears glasses," could she have foreseen this later take-off by Bob McKenty? "Men often get amorous/With gals who are mammarous."
Whether you love poetry or just don't get it, you will love these often hilarious poetic parodies. Martin Gardner has assembled his favorites, many by famous authors in their own right (Robert Sherwood, G.K. Chesterton, A.E. Housman, Bret Harte). Gardner does us the favor of putting the original poems first, followed by their parodies, thus providing a sampling of some of the best-known poems in English while demonstrating how easily the profound can be made to look ridiculous.
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